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Editor's Page: 5 Stars for Physician Ownership
CMS star rating system finds physician-owned hospitals most satisfactory.
Dan O'Connor
Publish Date: May 13, 2015   |  Tags:   Editors Page
OR Excellence

Marriott Rivercenter San Antonio, Texas Oct. 13-16

From Surgeon to Patient:
My Time on the Table

Sharona Ross, MD, FACS, thought she empathized with patients until a health scare required her to undergo surgery at Florida Hospital Tampa, where she works as one of the nation's leading minimally invasive surgeons. It was only when she experienced pre-op anxiety and the physical and mental challenges of recovery for herself that she truly understood the patient's perspective and learned valuable lessons that will forever impact her surgical career. Register now at orexcellence.com to meet Dr. Ross and learn firsthand about how to treat those in your care with compassion and dignity.

Funny how things work out sometimes, how what comes around really does go around, how sweet revenge and redemption can be, how the world always makes room for winners.

Back in December 2010, when we first told you about Physicians Care Surgical Hospital in suburban Philadelphia, there wasn't much to tell you about. We put a hand surgeon and a backhoe on the cover. They stood on a swath of undeveloped earth where a physician-owned hospital was to be built. The project, however, was in real danger of cratering.

Under the healthcare reform law enacted earlier that year, physician-owned projects had until year's end to secure Medicare certification. The deadline was one more attempt by the powerful hospital lobbies to kill off the threat these focused factories posed. In 2003, the Medicare Modernization Act put an 18-month freeze on payments to any new facilities. Even today, hospitals with physician ownership in their blood are banned from expanding under the Affordable Care Act.

Undeterred by the government's best efforts to legislate them out of existence, the surgeons plowed ahead and built their multi-specialty surgical hospital. The 30,000 square-foot center with 5 ORs is equipped for general surgery, gynecology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics and otolaryngology. It is popular where it matters most: amongst patients.

In a lovely twist of fate, Medicare has awarded Physicians Care Surgical Hospital its top "5-star" rating based on patient satisfaction and experience, truly a rare distinction.

  • Physician-owned hospitals account for only 5% of all U.S. hospitals, yet they represented 84 of the 251 hospitals receiving 5-star ratings in Medicare's summary star ratings. In all, Medicare judged 3,500 hospitals across the country. The ratings are based on patient satisfaction survey responses.
  • About 7% of hospitals got the 5-star rating, 34% received 4 stars, and 19% received 2 stars or fewer. All told, 81% of the hospitals received 3 stars or more.
  • Two-thirds (67%) of participating physician-owned hospitals received a 4- or 5-star rating.
  • Hospitals with physician ownership comprised 7 of the top 10 and 43 of the top 100 hospitals in the country in the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program, the CMS program that measures the quality of care at hospitals.

"The numbers are astonishing but not surprising — physician-led healthcare delivers high-quality results," says Blake Curd, MD, president of Physician Hospitals of America. "When you couple patient satisfaction with CMS quality data, there is no doubt patients do much better when they are treated at a physician-owned hospital."

Fresno Surgical Hospital is another physician-owned facility that got a 5-star rating.

"Low-cost, quality care: That's what we're all about and it's what we've always done, but it was nice to have that validation," says Fresno CEO Kristine Kassahn, RN. "This ranking is truly a testament to our staff's dedication to patient satisfaction."

Fresno has an empty second-story shell that it's not allowed to build out thanks to the Affordable Care Act's moratorium, even though there's a hospital bed shortage in the community. Fresno has 27 inpatient beds, 13 ORs, 300 employees and 240 physicians on staff. It's a bursting-at-the-seams facility that encourages family members of total joints patients to spend the night. It would trade its 5-star rating for the chance to expand.